Q&A For Parents

1. What is the St John Bosco Children's Camp?

The St John Bosco Children's Camp provides an exciting opportunity for children to have a unique camping holiday in the Essex countryside. Children live in tents, in groups of seven or eight, and can take part in a full programme of planned and supervised activities. Cooked meals are provided at breakfast, lunch and dinner.

2. When does the Camp run?

The Camp runs every summer for three weeks – two weeks for boys and one week for girls. This year's dates can be found here.

3. Who runs the Camp?

The Camp is run by a group of volunteers who give their time for free, motivated by the fantastic impact that the Camp has on the children who attend. Each week we have between 40-70 full time helpers that visit the camp. They work hard throughout the week to make sure that all the children in their care are safe and having a brilliant time. Helpers come from a diverse range of backgrounds and jobs, with teachers, lecturers, policemen, builders, lawyers, surveyors, engineers, nurses and many more. Many helpers even came as children when they were younger!

4. What ages does the Camp cater for?

For boys, we accept those who have reached their 8th birthday but not passed their 14th birthday on the day that they travel to Camp. For girls, we accept those who have reached their 9th birthday but not passed their 13th birthday on the day that they travel to Camp.

5. What activities are provided?

The activities depend on who volunteers for the camp. We try and add something every year but generally the activities will include arts and crafts and 'Mad Scientist' science experiments; team sports such as football, and basketball; water-based activities such as swimming (supervised in a pool), fishing and canoeing; archery (instructor-led); individual competitions for chess and draughts, table tennis, etc.; and a variety of evening activities such as movie nights and a camp fire.

6. How does the Catholic ethos affect the Camp?

We are a Catholic Camp and Mass or a Communion service is held each day. Children and helpers are encouraged to attend. All children are required to attend Sunday Mass. Above all, the Catholic faith teaches us to treat each other with respect and kindness, something that the children are encouraged to do.

7. Where is the Camp?

The site is set in over forty acres of Essex countryside, near Colchester, and is owned and maintained by SVP volunteers.

8. How much does the Camp cost?

The Camp is run on a totally voluntary basis and we endeavour to keep the cost of sending a child as low as possible. In addition, we carry out fund raising activities that contribute towards the running costs.

The suggested Camp donation is £145 for a child to stay at Camp for a week. All meals and activities are included.

9. Is there financial help available?

Some sponsorship is available through the SVP.

10. Is the Camp safe?

The Camp gives the utmost priority to the safety of the children. Usually two helpers are assigned to each tent of children and they are responsible throughout the week for their general welfare. The children are never allowed off the site other than on organised swimming trips.

All helpers, in accordance with child protection procedures, are carefully vetted with references and an enhanced CRB or DBS record check. All helpers must also attend a training day to learn the Camp procedures and protocols. All the activities at Camp have undergone rigorous risk assessments and a review and inspection of facilities is carried out annually.

Children need to be sufficiently independent to attend St. John Bosco Camp and capable of following basic rules of safety, e.g. not to climb over fences. We do have a code of conduct for children which we will send to you with the booking confirmation. We ask parents/carers to go through this code of conduct with the children attending our Camp prior to attending.

11. How do I apply?

You can apply for the Camp via online or printed application form, both available here.

12. What should my child bring to Camp?

A full list of the required equipment and suggested clothing will be sent with confirmation of your booking. This will include a sleeping bag. A time is set aside each day to enable everybody to tidy up and check their personal belongings. Please ensure that all belongings are marked with the child's name.

As this is a Camping holiday, please do not bring do not bring designer clothing, expensive watches, rings, iPods, mobile phones, hairdryers, cameras, electronic games etc. as these maybe easily lost or broken. Mobile phones are not allowed because of child protection.

13. What are the transportation arrangements?

Transport to and from the Camp has been arranged and is included in the cost. Pick up points are: Westminster Cathedral Hall (Victoria) or Beckton, (East London) or Harold Hill, (Romford). Further details of exact travel times and pick up points will be sent out with your confirmation of your booking.

Alternatively, you can provide your own transport.

14. My child needs to take medication. Will there be provision for this?

Yes. A more detailed medical form will be sent with confirmation of your child's booking and this must be completed and handed in on arrival at Camp when the children are being booked in. All medicines must be clearly marked with your child's name and clear instructions provided on the dosage.

We have a First Aid point on site and a doctor and general hospital are available locally.

15. My child has food allergies. Can the Camp provide a special diet?

The Camp is able to cater for restricted diets. Please give full details of any allergies, intolerances etc. on the application form.

16. Can I call my child?

We will ALWAYS call you in case of emergency. If you do not hear from us then you should assume that your child is happy and having a fantastic time at Camp. We discourage regular phone contact as it is usually the main cause of homesickness. We are very experienced in dealing with this issue and if a child is distressed we will make sure they contact you. The Camp is also set in over 50 acres and the children follow a rich activity schedule for the week sometimes away from the phone line. A call may result in Children missing out on an activity.

17. Where can I get updates on the Camp?

You can follow us on Twitter at @boscocamp

18. Can I volunteer?

We always welcome more volunteers. For more information about volunteering, see here.

19. Does my child need to bring any money to camp?

Outside of meal times a tuck shop opens once a day for the children to purchase items. The camp operates a bank system where we collect the money at the start of the week, track the spend and then return any unused money before the children go home. A reasonable amount to bring would be in the region of £5-10.